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Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World

Thomas proved to be the model for the spread of evangelical religion through New World slave communities.

Rebecca's Revival — Jon F. Sensbach | Harvard University Press

Sensbach weaves an intricate tale that spans four continents the Americas, Africa and Europe and ultimately transforms our understanding of the entire Atlantic world of the early eighteenth century. He relates the horrific history of slavery on St. Sensbach analyzes how evangelical Christianity transformed the black population and how they transformed and translated Christianity, in general, and Moravian beliefs, in particular, into their own empowering spiritual revolution.


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As one of the most effective and ardent Moravian evangelists whose obstinate resilience led to her imprisonment, near martyrdom and intermittent exile, Rebecca embodied the major social, political and cultural shifts in the Afro-Atlantic world. Sensbach also explicates her role as a catalyst that shapes this evolving world.

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Sensbach manages to capture the complex nuances of this religious and cultural transformation by illuminating rather than ignoring its inherent contradictions. Christianity undermined and disassembled notions of white supremacy and black subordination, just as much as it supported these ideas and the infrastructures that sustained them. Rebecca embodied the fluid nature of these changes as a woman who experienced many worlds: Thomas; and competing even hostile interpretations of Christianity, including evangelical Protestant sects, the Moravians being only one of several.

None could exclusively claim her because she belonged to all of them. Sensbach successfully demonstrates the complex convergence of the multiple and mutable social, cultural and political contexts from which Rebecca chose who she wanted to be and what she wanted to become.

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Her vision—like that of all pioneers who seize transformative opportunities—presumed a mission greater than herself and therefore, greater than her own time and place. This is a book everyone can enjoy. Sensbach translates superbly expansive and meticulous research into eloquent prose.


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If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'. View freely available titles: All but unknown today, Rebecca Protten left an enduring influence on African-American religion and society. Born in , Protten had a childhood conversion experience, gained her freedom from bondage, and joined a group of German proselytizers from the Moravian Church.

Rebecca's Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World

She embarked on an itinerant mission, preaching to hundreds of the enslaved Africans of St. Thomas, a Danish sugar colony in the West Indies.

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Laboring in obscurity and weathering persecution from hostile planters, Protten and other black preachers created the earliest African Protestant congregation in the Americas. Her career provides a unique lens on this prophetic movement that would soon sweep through the slave quarters of the Caribbean and North America, radically transforming African-American culture. The digital Loeb Classical Library loebclassics.

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